Furthering my Canberra nomnoms while in town for work I knew I would be working for two full days in Westfield at Belconnen and wanted something more than food court meals. I searched “Belconnen Cheap Eats” and found this amazing little “not so secret” secret venue directly opposite Westfield on Benjamin Way. PHO HUB has some great reviews and is known as a business bustling lunch spot for the Belconnen workers, lucky for me, I found it on a Canberra public holiday so shared the restaurant with one other table.
Pho (pronounced fer) came into existence around 1910 in Vietnam, southeast of Hanoi in Nam Định Province, then a substantial textile market. Traditionally sold at dawn and dusk by mobile sellers who carried poles on their shoulders with a pot hanging from either side, one a cooker and the other contained ingredients for them to add to the pho. Pho consists of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily served with either beef or chicken. In the last few years it has become one of the most trendy foods to eat and a popular dish among foodies and gourmands. It is ideal at any time of the day and is a perfect filling winter dish, usually affordable, aromatic, huge and mostly delicious.
I had read that when visiting PHO HUB I MUST have the pho (I think the title also hinted in this direction) and the articles I read (http://the-riotact.com/cheap-eats-pho-hub-belconnen/144806) leant towards the duck pho. I just wasn’t in the mood at the time for duck so thought I would ask the waitress what is the best pho to have, I have a sneaky suspicion she was also the owner, who told me I should have the beef special because it had so many different cuts of beef in it (rare beef, beef balls, brisket and tendons). I was in.
The venue was very modern and clean with an Asian warmth, leather bound menus, wooden tones, frosted glass entry and at the same time had a nice pairing with industrial with the huge silver air-conditioning ducting across the roof and use of bare cement. I liked it and felt very welcome, and due to the quiet time of the public holiday I was well looked after. I was given a large water bottle, and was constantly attended to, as soon a dish was empty it was taken away.
I ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee and waited for the pho. I had a look at the menu – it is HUGE – you can view it HERE. On my next visit I will hit this up with the Canberra besties, the Schmollinghams, as I think this would be a great place to share more meals and would be ideal as a night venue.
The Vietnamese iced coffee was divine, easily one of the best coffees I have had of recent years, it was sweet and moorish and I could have drank a few of them. The Special Beef Pho I cannot recommend enough, the broth was slightly oily but this never detracted from the deliciousness of it and the meat was fresh and tasty, the tendons at first weirded me out but they all went down. For a lunch meal I was worried it would be too much and I would need a lie down after, as opposed to returning back to work for a few hours. The plate was huge but it also came with a second plate containing sprouts to add on my own plus a bowl of chilli, some lime wedges and a few (literally) branches of basil. These additions were great and for the first time I could tailor it to my own tastes, loving both basil and chilli I put a lot in and loved every bit of it. I devoured the lot and maintained decorum by not slurping the bottom of the bowl.
I decided to try the Chè ba màu, literally translated to “three coloured dessert” – it is a three layered dessert, containing Red Beans, I am pretty certain the middle layer was custard (although I think traditionally it contains minced mung beans) and the top layer was green jelly. While I enjoyed it and found it different to a regular dessert, I was not a fan of filling the glass with ice on top – I scooped it all out into my water glass so I could eat the dessert – I would go a smaller serving glass and remove the ice and it would make the dish much more enjoyable.
The most amazing part of the meal – the cost – that pho – it was only $15- – I cannot remember the cost of the coffee or the dessert but the total meal was well under $30-. Well worth every cent. I look forward to working at Belconnen again because this place is going to be my lunch favourite :).